Corrie Eddleman is Assistant Professor of Acting at North Greenville University. She holds a BS in Theatre and Speech Communication from Hannibal LaGrange College and an MFA degree in Acting from Illinois State University. A member of Actor’s Equity since 1999, she has worked professionally off Broadway and across the mid-west. Her training includes work at the Royal Shakespeare Company (Stratford, England), The National Theatre Institute and the Chautauqua Theatre Conservatory. She has also studied Alexander, Michael Chekhov and Laban techniques. In addition to teaching, acting and directing on campus she directs the Act Two traveling drama ministry team. She is married to Matthew, a hospice chaplain with Spartanburg Regional. Their favorite hobby is spoiling their English Bulldog, Harley.
LeAnne: When I’m talking to artists, I’m always fascinated to learn when their love for art began, so I inevitably ask questions like these: Have you been a performer your whole life? When did you start acting?
Corrie: I remember my first experience with a play production was when I was in the second grade. My class was putting together a short play on the digestive process (a thrilling topic, I know). I took it upon myself to design the set and costumes. A huge mouth was to be cut out to shape the proscenium, the tongue was going to come out into the house and act as a stage extension, and the costumes I designed looked oh-so-fab in my mind. To my disappointment, the teacher was unable to use my ideas. Looking back, we would have needed a grandiose budget to develop my concept; but we opted for construction paper costumes and a bare stage. I had fun playing my role as Salivary Gland and was looking forward to playing in the future.
Throughout grade school and middle school, I was able to play many parts in play/musical productions at my church; but it wasn’t until high school when I got to experience a true traditional theatre experience. My freshman year I was cast as Mrs. Harper in Arsenic and Old Lace. A very small role, but in a high school of over 2,000 students I was happy to participate in any capacity. From there I was hooked and continued to audition for every play and musical that came my way.
LM: You just landed the lead roles in the Illinois Shakespeare Festival’s summer 2008 season. Congratulations! How does that feel? The two roles-- Katherine in Taming of the Shrew and Tamora in Titus Andronicus—are very different. What will be your biggest challenges in playing them?
CE: I am thrilled and nervous about this summer at ISF. I am a huge Shakespeare fan and to be able to tackle two fabulous female roles in the same summer is somewhat daunting. Not only is his language beautiful, but he creates complex, realistic and completely human characters to which actors are naturally drawn. People have been enjoying his plays for 400 years for a reason: he speaks to the human condition in all of its beauty and its flaws. Shakespeare seeks truth, and that is exactly what I will be after this summer as well.
One of the biggest challenges with Katherine will be that this play is so well known. Many people have seen good if not excellent productions of Taming of the Shrew that it will be natural for the audience to compare my Kate to the Kate they first saw. I will be working on letting those preconceived notions and ideas of Kate leave my mind. She will be created form scratch and I am so excited to see how she develops. My ultimate goal will be to create a three-dimensional woman, not just a “shrew”. I want to highlight her uniqueness while zeroing in on who she is at her core. What did Shakespeare intend with this play? What has made Kate a “shrew”? How can I relate to Kate on a personal level? These are all of the questions I will be asking myself this summer in hopes to develop an honest, yet entertaining woman.
I think Tamora will be a bit more freeing for me. Titus Andronicus is a play that is not often produced; ideas of how this play “should” be will not be as prevalent among viewers. Tamora is evil. I always enjoy playing a role that is completely not me. Don’t get me wrong, I have the capacity to be evil and have unfortunately participated in evil things, but not to the extent of Tamora. The challenge with this character will be for me to see and bring to life her redeeming qualities. Tamora isn’t evil just because--something brought her to this place in her life and I want to discover how she became this woman.
LM: What have been your two favorite roles so far? Why?
CE: I thoroughly enjoyed playing Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire for many of the same reasons I enjoy Shakespeare. Tennessee Williams creates these worlds that are beautiful and ugly all at the same time. He wrote about topics that were edgy for their time while not preaching or being didactic in his telling of the story. Blanche is an iconic role, but she is also very accessible from an actor’s view point. William’s use of language is breathtaking, pointed and emotionally charged. Working on any of his plays is always an honor.
Another role that ranks at the top of my list is Mable Tidings in Pride’s Crossing by Tina Howe. It is a beautiful play about memories, dreams, joy, hardship and regret. Written in episodic form, the scenes switch back and forth from the present (when Mable is 90 years old) to the past (Mabel at various ages throughout her life). What a challenge it was to create a believable 90 year old woman and then to switch to the age of seven within a matter of seconds! With a symbolic set and minimal props & costumes the age difference and believability fell square on my shoulders. The show was received with many accolades and the director, Deb Alley, will also be directing me in Titus Andronicus this summer. I am excited to see what she does with Titus.